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31 comments

Natural fibers and line drying and avoiding cheap disposable fashion are great and should be encouraged but the modern fetish for living in a sterile bubble is unhealthy. You have an immune system if you don't trash it by saturating yourself in bogus hand sanitizer and other consumerist malpractice.

As someone with OCD that used to shower 3-4 times daily, I think this focus on sanitizing everything can lead to an unhealthy mindset and behaviours.

[–] xy_equals_guy 5 points Edited

If you are not permitted to dry clothes outside, or the weather isn't suitable, I strongly recommend hang drying them inside with a dehumidifier nearby. It uses much less energy than a tumble drier and doesn't harm your clothes. It has the added benefit of controlling the humidity in your house, which will make both hot and cold temperatures easier to tolerate, saving money on heating and air conditioning. It will also prevent damage caused by damp, such as mould.

Excellent advice! For those who live in snowy climates, I recommend you look up how to clean with snow (must be below freezing to work and you must have access to a small area outdoors the size of whatever you’re cleaning)! I do this with my wool sweaters and rugs.

[–] NoDayForADo 1 points Edited

I'm a history nerd so I found some of this pretty interesting (I know laundry was a backbreaking, multi-step process back in the day but I did not know linen had natural anti-bacterial properties) ... but I found the degree of her distress about laundry not being sanitized to be somewhat over the top. We don't need to sanitize everything. You don't sanitize your hands after you use the bathroom, after wiping your actual ass... you wash them with soap and comfortably warm water. Soap plus friction do a good job of removing bacteria. Also, you can use bleach with colored loads if you need to for some reason... it helps with funky odors... you just need to use the proper amount. I ruined a load recently because I didn 't realize it was double strength (a few things came out with spots) but I've been using normal strength bleach in the bleach dispenser for years and never had a problem. I've cloth diapered all my kids so there's been a lot of poop passing through our washing machine but my kids hardly ever miss school for illness. If a stomach bug is making the rounds, my kids will get it, but that's district wide, not coming from my washing machine.. and most likely passed butt to hand to surface to hand to mouth, due to haphazard hand washing and/or the unconscious butt scratching younger kids are prone to (which could be partly why the older kids seem to get stomach bugs less than the younger kids, even though handwashing at our schools almost certainly becomes more lax in the higher grades due to lack of time etc... I'm sure immunity improves with age, too)

Depending on the climate you live in, line drying in the sun can also really do a number on your clothes. We lived in the south west for a while and I line dried everything and we definitely had fading from the sun from it. But it really did make a difference on our electric bills. The ideal set up is probably a dry climate but a shady spot to dry.

example of findings of washing even with non-antibacterial soap... unless you have some sort of seriously harmful pathogen going around like tyhphoid, you probably do not need to go above and beyond to sanitize.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037063/

Summary:

  • washing clothes in detergent doesn’t sanitize them.

  • water never gets hot enough to kill most bacteria (you need BOILING water as has been done historically).

  • washing underwear with regular clothes contaminates your regular clothes (E.g. fecal bacteria, etc…)

  • the modern laundry practice (washing machine + dryer) destroys your clothes, so you have to replace them more often

  • linen has antibacterial properties (99.8% compared to 40% in cotton) and linen is actually stronger when wet, whereas other fibre materials are all more FRAGILE when wet.

  • linen can actually take a beating during laundry while other fibres cannot.

  • historically, people wore linen undergarments (undershirts, shifts, etc…) to keep themselves cleaner (antibacterial properties, yay!) and to PROTECT your FASHION CLOTHING from you (your body oils, skin shedding, bacteria). The result is that your fashion clothing can be spot treated and laundered less often, thus extending the life of the garment.

  • washing synthetic fibres (polyester, nylon, etc…) puts plastic into our water system.

  • Canada and the US have laws in certain places against outdoor line drying because it makes the look of the neighbourhood look “poor.” This forces the inhabitants to use dryers and destroying the lifespan of their clothes, contributing to textile waste, wasting energy resources, and lacking in the sanitation properties of the sun (UV light).

Note: the video did go into more details with interesting side bits. So watch the video if you have time.

i will watch the video but have not yet as my boyf is asleep next to me andi don't know where my headphones are. but based on your summary, i definitely agree with most of this,but i do question the bit about killing bacteria. any soap is a surfactant and these in themselves can kill bacteria.

i'm also not sure that killing bacteria is, outside of a hospital or hospitality setting, the main purpose of washing out clothes. i don't really view clothing as a good environment for bacteria to replicate in the first place, especially once its not being worn next to the skin. in a healthy person the bacteria present on skin are commensal so i don't really see the issue. fecal bacteria is a different kettle of fish, there's the grossness factor but also that is where you're more likely to have pathogenic bacteria (unless you have an infected open skin wound, then there's pathogens on your skin, but then you should be dressing that not having it against your clothes and puttting them in a normal wash). so basically unless you're ill i think the bacteria on clothes is not going to harm you and is likely to be killied by the chemical environment of a washing cycle, regardless of termperature.

i do have to caveat this post majorly in that i work in the life sciences, in a field where we often culture bacteria, but not n the lab, so i think i'm a prime candidate for the dunning kruger effect.

I’m not in the life sciences, so I can only go by what experts in the field say. This one says soap doesn’t kill salmonella and e-coil.

As to the question of if we really need to go the mile to sanitize our clothes, I don’t know. I do know my sunlight dried clothes smell amazing while my indoor hung dried laundry isn’t anything worthy to write about.

Yeah but the moving water + soap should remove most of the bacteria from the clothes anyway, which will go down the drain. I don’t think it matters too much if they’re not dead.

Also I think I remember reading that washing clothes is enough to get rid of COVID on them, because of the soap and the moving water.

oh yeah, drying outside is better by far. drying indoors you'll eventually saturate the surrounding air with moisture, unless you have great ventilation. without that moisture concentration gradient your clothes won't really dry properly so they'll end up kinda musty and provide a welcoming environment for whatever microorganisms are floating around in the air.

Thanks very much for the synopsis.

Canada and the US have laws in certain places against outdoor line drying because it makes the look of the neighbourhood look “poor.”

This pisses me off so much

Canada and the US have laws in certain places against outdoor line drying because it makes the look of the neighbourhood look “poor.” This forces the inhabitants to use dryers and destroying the lifespan of their clothes, contributing to textile waste, wasting energy resources, and lacking in the sanitation properties of the sun (UV light).

I cannot speak for Canada, but I'm not aware of any state laws in the U.S. banning line-drying clothing. Some HOAs might ban the practice, but HOAs are not city governments and cannot pass laws for the citizenry. They can only make rules for the residents of their neighborhood. I have been line-drying my clothing for my entire adult life. Before that, my mother line-dried our clothing. It's a widespread practice even today in all kinds of communities and all income levels, from my observations. In some states, HOAs are even banned from restricting the practice. These are "right to dry" states and include California, Illinois, and Hawaii, among many others.

If you're an apartment dweller in the US, it can be nearly impossible to find a place that will let you hang clothes out on your balcony.

That’s good to hear about those states.

My teacher lived in such a neighbourhoods (Canada). She was complaining in class how some condos don’t even let you line dry on the balcony.

I hope the laws have changed in Canada to restrict such asshole HOAs. I’ve never had to look it up because I’ve never lived in a place that restricted line drying.

Edit: well, I just looked up laws in Ontario. In 2008, our premier put right-to-dry laws in place. An article in 2018 said Doug Ford was repealing the law. I can’t currently find anything on Ontario’s E-laws website regarding clotheslines. I think it’s gone. Thank you soooo much, Doug Ford, your contribution to the environment will be much remembered. /s

I did not know that about linen (very good to know!). I also did not know that about underwear. I did know that about plastic fabrics and phased them out some time ago, even microfibre cleaning cloths. (Also, I just don't like wearing them.)

Another thing I would add is that hard water is also really hard on your iron – my mother used to bring water home from the cottage to use in the city because cottage-water was much softer than our well water in the city, even with a water softener.

As far as hanging to dry, for some reason I really don't like the feel of air-dried cotton. My mother used to use a clothes line all the time (outside winter) and I did not like the results.

I hand-wash most of my clothes because most are wool and the rest don't usually constitute a load of laundry (I typically only own two pairs of knickers at a time so hand-wash them in the sink). I also usually use baking soda instead of detergent and recently added washing soda to my repertoire. I also recently made up some cotton dresses that will need to be washed more often than wool (whenever the armpits get stinky) so also bought some laundry sheets to save on detergent costs (baking soda is expensive for laundry) – I don't know how good they are, having only used one so far.

I gotta say, though, that regardless of how cheap fabric is, sewing and knitting all your own clothes, especially hand sewing/knitting, really keeps your wardrobe small, making it necessary to take better care of it.

I don't know if this'll help, but I find air-dried cotton has a strange stiffness that usually goes away if you shake it out twice - once before hanging it up to dry, and once before you actually wear it.

This brings up another issue: the thing about modern underwear, you can’t even use the hot settings even if you do have 100% cotton. That elastic will break down super fast.

I use Nellie’s laundry powder (contains washing soda among other ingredients—no fragrances!). I buy it in bulk, so it comes out really cheap. I also use it for hand wash items.

For the armpit issue, look up dress shields (or make your own) (other keywords: reusable sweat pads). That’s how the Victorians protected their clothes from their armpits.

Well this is gross. What about like ultraviolet lights?

It could work. Depends on the light. Sanitization with UV requires two things: time and intensity.

Basically, the light has to be strong enough to be effective and your clothes must sit under it for a certain length of time. How long? I don’t know.

I do know that you need 30 minutes minimum under a clear midday sun to sanitize your clothes.

What if they made washing machines that blasted them with the light the whole time they spun in soap (or whatever)?

They have to sit still and be exposed consistently. Washing them causes shadows. It’s like getting a burn. You keep walking in and out of the shade and you won’t get much of a burn (if at all depending on your skin) as if you sat in one spot under the sun. Furthermore, water depth decreases the intensity of UV light.

Living things like bacteria need to killed with consistent application of energy. It’s like when you pasteurize raw eggs from salmonella (it has to be kept at 60*C for 10 minutes to properly work).